Department of Political Science (Military)
POLITICAL SCIENCE (MILITARY)
In accordance with other South African universities, the Subject Group Political Science (Mil) offers the following broad fields of study in Political Science:
The courses in Politics cover the philosophical roots of modern democracy, modern constitutional arrangements, and the politics of making and implementing policy. To this end, it introduces the student to a wealth of ideas concerning political philosophy, different ideologies, as well as policy-making processes and different political systems and institutions. Within the context of “defence in a democracy”, the notion of civil-military-relations also gets considerable attention.
Furthermore, the international and continental (African) systems, with their organisations, structures and dynamics, are also important focus areas of Political Science. The courses in International and African Politics relate to questions, such as: “why do states and other international role-players do what they do”?”, and “how do international and continental politics and relations reflect co-operation and conflict”. Students consider these questions through various paradigms, such as classical realism (where power and interest are the main factors), or from an international political economy perspective (where the interdependence of politics and economics is considered to be at the centre of understanding and explaining international and continental dynamics). Students also consider the above-mentioned questions through the study of the dynamics and decision-making perspectives and processes of nation-states and (sub)regional sub-systems. In other words, students use multiple “lenses” to improve their ability to analyse and understand developments in the international community and on the continent. Through the use of theoretical perspectives and case studies, individual research and writing, and course exercises, students focus on and assess questions of power, wealth, underdevelopment, (in)security and (in)stability.
Officers who command and lead the SANDF in the 21st century need to be attuned to the role that politics and politically-related issues play in shaping the international and (sub)regional environment in which the SANDF – as a foreign policy instrument – functions and operates. They also need to be accomplished and informed functionaries in the decision-making environment where South Africa’s defence and security outlook and policies are at stake. Specifically, they need to be able to facilitate the shaping of South Africa’s defence and security outlook, as well as to consider and pursue South Africa’s vital national interests (specifically in a security-related context) in a responsible manner. The purpose of undergraduate education in Political Science should then be clear: to prepare students for positions of responsibility and leadership at both operational and strategic decision-making levels in an ever-changing regional and international environment.